This week, we take a look at the wide receiver position. Whether you’re in a super-competitive league or one of those leagues that doesn’t really matter, here’s all you need to know about the top 30 wideouts in the game of fantasy.
– These are the guys that should be gone in the first or second round of almost any league. In my opinion, it’s alright to spend a late-first round draft pick on an elite WR. (BW = Bye Week)
1.) Andre Johnson (Houston Texans – BW: 11) – There’s nothing like some Andre; single coverage, double coverage or even triple coverage, it doesn’t really matter because Johnson will come down with the ball more times than not. He wasn’t the best WR last season, but still put forth a respectable season despite being a no-show during the fantasy playoffs. Johnson hasn’t had less than eight touchdowns since 2006, expect much of the same in 2011. As for picking Andre in the first round of your fantasy draft, I suggest picking him towards the end of the round.
2.) Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons – BW: 8) – If you want guaranteed targets and catches, White is your guy. While leading the league in both categories in 2010, Roddy was known as Matt Ryan’s right-hand man. I see no reason why this would change, particularly with the Falcons first-round draft pick Julio Jones who will at the least draw some coverage away from White. Add in the fact that Tony Gonzalez is only getting older and White/Ryan may be one of the premier WR/QB combos in all of the NFL. I’ll definitely take a chance on that in fantasy.
3.) Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants – BW: 7) – Nicks is just as talented as the two guys ahead of him, but his propensity to miss games was a bit of a problem in 2010. Nonetheless, in the 13 games he did play, Nicks was targeted in the red-zone frequently and replaced teammate Steve Smith as Eli Manning’s favorite receiver. Another concern with Nicks is the possible emergence of teammate Mario Manningham who is the more speedy receiver.
4.) Greg Jennings (Green Bay Packers – BW: 8) – Everything is falling into place for Jennings to have a fantastic fantasy year. Not only does he have the best fantasy QB (Aaron Rodgers), James Jones will likely be lost to free agency and Donald Driver is nearing the end of his career. I’m also not sure how much of an impact Jordy Nelson can have as the second receiver on a pass-happy Packers team. This all means Jennings will see plenty of targets, a lot of them coming deep down the field where Jennings excelled last season. Moreover, Jennings is one of the best in the league at racking up yards after the catch.
5.) Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions – BW: 9) – Megatron is right up there with Andre Johnson as the most talented receiver in the game. The only problem is deciding what QB will be throwing to the him each week. If Matthew Stafford could stay healthy for more than half the season, Johnson would be one of fantasy’s most prized possessions. But, until then, I see Megatron barely sliding in as elite.
Fantasy Second Tier
– These guys are on the brink of becoming elite and may be a season or two from getting there or just recently leaving their elite status. Fantasy-wise, these guys can get you through the year and quite possibly bring you greatness at the position.
6.) Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals – BW: 6) – Fitzgerald’s status in the fantasy world all rests on who will be the QB in Arizona in 2011. As of now, he can’t be considered elite unless a somewhat decent QB comes to the rescue. With Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson under center in 2010, Fitz suffered big time and scored only six touchdowns.
7.) Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts – BW: 11) – I think it’s safe to say Wayne has passed his prime and is now one of those pesky veteran wide-receivers. While that’s a good thing for a franchise, it’s not always the best situation for fantasy. Wayne’s days of consistency have to come to an end eventually and I have a feeling it Wayne’s time to step down from his previous elite status and have a good, but not great 2011.
8.) Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh Steelers – BW: 11) – Wallace is the hands-down best deep-ball wide-receiver in the game. Big Ben loves to watch the small and speedy Wallace go down-field and snatch the ball. In 2010, Wallace showed a little more versatility in his game and has fantasy owners wondering if he can reach the next level. I’m not so sure he can have a great year, but he will surely be a safe bet in the second or third round, seeing that he plays on a good Steelers team.
9.) DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles – BW: 7) – Similar to his teammate Michael Vick, Jackson owns that high risk-high reward distinction. He’s proved that he can win games all by himself (did you see that punt return?), but he also has the tendency to rely too much on the big play. While he may be one of the most exciting players to watch, he can also have you wondering why he has no catches in the game.
10.) Miles Austin (Dallas Cowboys – BW: 5) – Austin was the hot sleeper in 2010, but a Tony Romo injury back-tracked those plans. So why not in 2011? Personally, I think teammate Dez Bryant is a great talent and will surely take a lot of targets away from Austin. Add in the fact that Austin ranked top-five in drops last year and you could have a less productive year in 2011. Don’t get me wrong, but I think Austin is far away from being elite and may not even be the best wide-out on his team.
11.) Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers – BW: 8) – 2010 was a fantasy wasteland for Jackson as he missed most of the season, but he’s just way too talented to not be Philip Rivers go-to WR in 2011.
12.) Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs – BW: 6) – Bowe looked great in 2010, but something is telling me that it could have been more of an aberration.
13.) Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys – BW: 5) – Designating Bryant as a sleeper in 2010 was a bit premature, but not anymore as 2011 projects to be the breakout year for the sophomore.
14.) Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints – BW: 11) – Coming off another surgery on his knee, Colston has way too many weapons to share the ball with in New Orleans.
15.) Steve Johnson (Buffalo Bills – BW: 7) – One of my sleepers for 2011 because he’s a straight baller; check out this booty cake for his 25th birthday if you don’t believe me!
Fantasy Fourth Tier
– These guys are definite WR2 and flex options and shouldn’t be your first wideout selected in your fantasy draft. Some of these guys who are free agents and could move up to the third tier if put in the right situation.
16.) Mike Williams (Tampa Bay Bucs – BW: 8)
17.) Brandon Lloyd (Denver Broncos – BW: 6)
18.) Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles – BW: 7)
19.) Brandon Marshall (Miami Dolphins – BW: 5)
20.) Santonio Holmes (New York Jets – BW: 8)
21.) Mario Manningham (New York Giants – BW: 7)
22.) Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings – BW: 9)
23.) Wes Welker (New England Patriots – BW: 7)
24.) Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens – BW: 5)
25.) Kenny Britt (Tennessee Titans – BW: 6)
26.) Sidney Rice (Seattle Seahawks – BW: 6)
27.) AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals – BW: 7)
28.) Michael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers – BW: 7)
29.) Austin Collie (Indianapolis Colts – BW: 11)
30.) Johnny Knox (Chicago Bears – BW: 8)
Did I miss someone or do you disagree with any of my rankings? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
Fantasy Research Archive:
2011 Fantasy Football Top 30 By Position (Quarterbacks)
2011 Fantasy Football Top 30 By Position (Running Backs)
2011 Fantasy Football Top 30 By Position (Tight Ends)
2011 Fantasy Football Top 30 By Position (Defense/Special Teams)
2011 Fantasy Football Top 30 By Position (Kickers)